Situation in Brief

As a high-income country, the general health situation in Japan remains one of the best in the Western Pacific Region. Health indicators such as life expectancy and child mortality rates continue to improve, though lifestyle conditions and diseases related to ageing such as diabetes, cancer, stress and heart disease represent ongoing challenges. The health system runs on a principle that all citizens should be able to receive health care they require, with an affordable personal contribution. As blindness is not life-threatening, eye health is rarely seen as a public health problem. There is no dedicated national eye health program, and ophthalmic services are generally integrated with broader health delivery systems. As the population ages, the prevalence of visual impairment is projected to increase from 1.3% of the population in 2007 to 2.0% by 2050. Vision screening programs are supported by the government and delivered through schools nationwide. Until 2007, fundus examinations were included in basic health checks conducted by local governments. They have since been removed from the program, and now retinal screening rates are among the lowest in the OECD. There is a decreasing number of new ophthalmologists and increasing number of patients, so a demand-supply gap is forecast for the future. Japan is an important development donor for the region, and has supported efforts to improve health infrastructure, training of medical personnel and disease control in countries across Asia and the Pacific Islands. Juntendo University School of Medicine in Tokyo has been a noteworthy contributor of technical support.


Country Statistics

Indicator Value
Population: 127,250,000
Human development index value: 0.890
National Prevention of Blindness Committee active: No
National Eye Health Plan Developed: No
Cataract surgical rate: 8091
Number of ophthalmologists: 13,911
Blindness prevalence: 0.15% (2007 estimate)
Main causes of blindness: Glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, degenrative myopia, age-related macular degeneration and cataract
Total expenditure on health as percentage of total government expenditure: 19.4
Diabetes prevalence: 7.6%
Improved drinking water coverage: 100
Improved sanitation coverage: 100
Endemic areas for trachoma: No